Mob Burns Christian Slum in Pakistan
"LAHORE, Pakistan — Like so many tragic incidents, it started with two alcohol-soaked young men getting into an argument. It ended with 250 homeless families.
On March 6, in a northern suburb of Lahore, Pakistan, 28-year-old Christian sanitation worker Sawan Masih visited Muslim childhood friend Shahid Imran’s barbershop.
Although Pakistan is officially a dry country, one can easily procure spirits there, and it was liquor that fueled the squabble. It ended with Imran accusing Masih of blasphemy against Islam.
This is a particularly loaded charge in a nation where no proof is needed to bring charges, where a guilty verdict brings a death sentence, and where mere accusations typically lead to egregious violence against the republic’s Christians, who account for just 1.6% of Pakistan’s population.
And so it was that three days later, on March 9, the local mosque’s loudspeakers announced Masih had blasphemed Muhammad. This provoked an evidently coordinated mob of 3,000 Muslims to march on the Christian ghetto of Joseph Colony, even though Masih was already in jail.
As the throng grew, police urged residents to leave the slum at once. Those who could went to relatives’ homes. None who escaped realized they would never again see their homes or their few personal possessions — some of which provided their livelihood — for these were either first looted or burned in the ensuing inferno."